November 2, 2017 - 40th Infantry Division Band Performs Harlem Hellfighter Band/James Reese Europe Program
Presidio Officer's Club, San Francisco
By Bill Betten, Co-Director of the California WW1 Centennial Task Force
Presidio Dialogues - From Ragtime to Jazz: The Music of James Reese Europe
On November 2, 2017, a National Guard band brought to life the fascinating tale of Jim Europe, a leader not only in the transition from ragtime to jazz, but also in bringing respect to his race. Narrative, video, and live music blended together to tell this amazing story of a black composer and conductor who was the first black American officer to cross No-Man's-Land in World War One.
The Veteran's Day concert with members of the First Detachment of the 40th Infantry Division of the California National Guard Band was performed at the Presidio Officer’s Club at 50 Moraga Ave., in San Fransisco, part of the Presidio Trust’s Dialogues program. This was a concert commemorating the 100th anniversary of Lt. James Reese Europe and his famous 369th Hellfighter Band. Lt. Europe was an important transitional figure in American history and his band helped develop and spread the new idiom of Jazz while they served in Europe as part of the AEF (American Expeditionary Force.)
The concert documented the life of James Reese Europe, the impact of the Hellfighters, and notable members and their subsequent careers. The band performed original compositions of James Reese Europe performed by the Hellfighters Band and companion French Regimental Bands that shared the stage with them. The concert also had a historical narrative and was accompanied by pictures.
Chief Warrant Officer Two James Lamb, the appointed Band Master of California's First State Military Reserve Band is also a trumpet player, and the president of Point Source Audio, an engineering, and manufacturing company in California,
Lamb, a 30-plus year veteran in the music and audio industry, continues to nurture a passion for music performance and composition. As a regular volunteer with the National Guard band he gathered, arranged, and developed the James Europe/Harlem Hellfighter program, and acts as narrator. James Lamb's musical background includes performances at Lincoln Center, the New Jersey Pops Orchestra, the Tavern on the Green, and conducting the New Jersey All Star Big Band. His critically acclaimed performances as a conductor include a Carnegie Hall debut, the Williamson Center for the Performing Arts, and the Harman Center.